The Work of Grace in the Salvation of Sinners
Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is the God of all grace. Grace is what we call God’s work that leads to the salvation of His chosen people (Eph 2:8–9; Titus 3:5). Grace abounds even to the chief of sinners when that person is predestined, redeemed, and regenerated by God’s sovereign will and gracious choice (Ps 115:3; 135:6; Rom 11:5; Eph 1:11; 3:11).
God’s gracious choice of a remnant people from every nation, tribe, and tongue occurred before the foundation of the world when He wrote the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 5:9; 13:8; 17:18). This was followed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ when He came into the world as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of His people, representing every nation of the world (Is 6:7; Jn 1:29; Acts 3:19; Rom 11:27; 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 9:26; 1 Jn 3:5).
God’s grace reaches every elect soul, for the Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19), and in the end He will have lost none of those who belong to Christ Jesus (Jn 10:28–29; Rom 8:35–39; 1 Cor 3:23). All the sons of Adam are lost, estranged from their Creator from conception because of sin. Sin is inherited, practiced, and has enslaved humanity, being the very nature of unregenerate souls (Ps 51:5; Rom 3:23; 6:6; Eph 2:3).
When grace visits the lost soul who is elect and redeemed, it is a visit from the Holy Spirit (Zech 12:10; Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23; 2 Tim 4:22; 1 Pet 1:22). The lost, elect soul is brought under the preaching ministry of a Spirit-filled man of God (Lk 4:18; Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 2:4; 1 Pet 1:12), who proclaims the Gospel of grace, which is the message of Christ and Him crucified (Acts 20:24; 1 Cor 1:23; 2:2).
Grace preaches the Gospel of God, and by this, grace calls God’s chosen people to come to Jesus Christ to be saints (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:6, 15; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 5:10). Knowing that no one can resist the will of God, if God has predestined one to adoption (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5) and he or she received the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15, 23) then God’s calling that soul is as sure as His election of him or her (2 Pet 1:10). The Father causes His adopted children to come to Christ (Mt 11:28; Jn 6:44)…and they all come.
When the Spirit of grace baptizes the lost, whom He has found, they are now members of Christ’s body, His church, the Israel of God (Mt 6:14; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 6:16). The Spirit causes lost souls to be born again of God (1 Pet 1:3). He makes them alive in Christ, alive to God (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), and alive to the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:15).
Grace grants repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31). Grace also grants faith to each chosen child in the measure God determines (Rom 12:3; Gal 3:22; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2). Both repentance and faith follow regeneration, but all three are attributed to the Holy Spirit’s work in converting the unbeliever into a Christian.
The sinner adds nothing to God’s work of grace that produces new (spiritual) life, a changed heart and mind, and a manifestation of trust in Jesus Christ. Enmity is replaced by love for the Lord, His Word, and His people (Rom 5:10; 1 Jn 4:19). The fruit of the Spirit is the phenomenon whereby the communicable attributes of God appear in the thoughts, words, and behavior of the saint (Gal 5:22–23).
Grace justifies the unjust, ungodly sinner God has willed to save. The adopted child of God is comforted by the Spirit, who employs the Word of God to assure the child of right standing with God the Father, by virtue of being legally positioned in God the Son. Grace transfers the child to a position of righteousness “in Christ.” Christ merited His right standing with the Father, but the justified sinner was graced with his or her position, “But to him that worketh not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Rom 4:5).”
Grace gifts every aspect of salvation to the recipient, who is helpless in the receipt of it all. God sets no hurdles or conditions upon the recipient. Grace unto salvation simply happens to the recipient according to God’s will and God’s work. God’s predetermined plan is worked by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It is all done in wisdom and with omnipotence. The terms “sovereign grace” are conjoined to capture the all-encompassing nature of God’s exclusivity in will and work, so all glory is ascribed to God, alone.
Grace reigns in the Christian and in the church. It is the Spirit’s work to make the church holy as God is holy (1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2, 16). He who began the good work of sanctification (to make holy) in the saint (one being made holy) has promised to complete His work (Phil 1:6). Holiness by grace has its goal as conformity to Christ, who is the image of the invisible God (Rom 8:29; Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17). Christ, by His Spirit, is forming in the saint, being renewed day by day — even as the body of the saint suffers decay because of sin.
The saint dies in the flesh, but grace is not done. The promise of a resurrected life has been made (Jn 5:28–29). Awaiting the gathering-in of the full number of elect, redeemed, regenerated souls means the work of grace, in the glorification of the saints (body and soul), is set for the appointed day of Christ’s bodily return in glory (Mt 24–25; Mk 13; Lk 21; Rev 19:11–21).
In sum and conclusion, we have defined grace as God’s work in the salvation of His chosen people. We have identified grace at every step in the order of salvation. God’s grace is sufficient for us, as it abounds in accomplishing everything concerning our salvation. God is able, even as He is willing to do more than we can think or imagine, and all of it by His grace. It is right to call it, “amazing.”
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 10, 2021